| The Therapy Room

THE THERAPY ROOM: How to help someone with depression

Posted on 15 August 2018 by LeslieM

There is help for individuals and families to recognize and cope with depression, including major depression or dysthymia, and manic depression or bipolar disorder. We must provide better knowledge to those who suffer with depression in order to get proper help and to prevent any suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), depression is a serious and treatable medical condition that affects almost 18 million Americans a year. Everyone gets sad, but depression and sadness are different. When an individual is sad, depressed or irritable for at least two weeks, it can be a sign of clinical depression. Depression does not discriminate and it causes suffering not only to an individual but to that individual’s family, co-workers and friends. There is good news and that is depression is treatable and relief can be experienced within weeks or months.

Many factors cause depression and include a chemical imbalance of mood regulation in the brain, genetics, substance abuse, illness and life events. Whatever the cause, depression needs treatment. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), one half of people with depression get treatment, but only one third of people with depression get treatment that helps. We need to understand depression, what good treatment looks like and how to monitor the treatment so it works.

Depression can be hard to recognize because every person is unique and has different feelings. Some feel sad; some are quiet and others become withdrawn and anti-social. Many of my patients have told me during a psychotherapy session that they feel anxious, lonely, full of fear and empty.

Symptoms for depression:

Persistently sad, empty or irritable mood

Reduced interest and pleasure in doing things

Tired, trouble falling or staying asleep or sleeping too much

Lack of appetite or overeating

Medically unexplained aches and pains

Abusing drugs or alcohol

Wanting to hurt self or thoughts of suicide

Symptoms for bipolar disorder or manic depression:

(when not in a depressive state):

Increased energy with decreased need for sleep without feeling tired

Severe and sudden changes in mood

Increased talking

Impulsive behavior

Difficulty concentrating

The initial step to help someone with depression is a clinical evaluation. A licensed clinician will be able to differentiate normal episodes of sadness from depression. The clinician will recommend a physical examination by a healthcare provider to rule out thyroid conditions, hormonal imbalances and viral infections that can cause symptoms of depression. A psychosocial evaluation is also important to detail a patient’s depression and discuss any alcohol or drug use, any suicidal thoughts, family history of depression and home/school/work life.

Finding the right clinician to help you or a loved one with depression can be challenging. Be selective. A clinician should be available to answer questions and provide care. As a licensed clinical psychotherapist, I offer complimentary, brief phone or office consultations to discuss such matters. Please visit my website www.drjuliabreur.com for contact information.

Dr. Julia Breur is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. Further information available at www.drjuliabreur.com.

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THE THERAPY ROOM: Concerning suicide

Posted on 19 July 2018 by LeslieM

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates in the United States increased 30 percent between 2000 and 2016 and, according to a June 2018 CDC separate analysis, suicides have risen in almost every state.

The recent suicides of the well-know fashion designer Kate Spade, age 55, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, age 61, bring forth the sad reality that suicide rates for middle aged people are now higher than almost any other age group in the United States … and rising.

According to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the most common stressors linked to middle age suicides include problems with partners, job and finances, health, family and legal issues. Other links have been made to using alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms, physical and chronic pain, untreated depression and other mental health problems and isolation. It is isolating to be a well-known figure where people want to know you for social opportunities and not always for social connections.

Bridget Phetasy a stand-up comedian and freelance writer explains, “If you’ve never wanted to kill yourself, it’s hard to comprehend the feeling, but it’s insidious and ever-present and, once the idea of suicide got in my head, it was like a worm that infected the network, exploiting the vulnerabilities in my operating system. When I was deep in that darkness, the thought was always with me, haunting me, waiting for just the right moment or excuse to tip me over the line from ideation to planning to action.”

There is a call to action for every state in the United States to intensify the focus on implementing suicide prevention policies and programs to save lives! Twenty-seven states note that 54 percent of those who died from suicide were not diagnosed with a mental health condition (CDC, 2015).

Dr. Jerry Reed, an executive member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, says that the alliance is working with more than 250 hospitals nationwide to ensure that someone brought into their facilities after a suicide attempt is connected to long-term mental healthcare. He advocates that churches, schools and police need to improve recognizing people at risk for suicide and help them get proper treatment and to feel less isolated.

Dr. Reed believes that limiting access to guns for people who are unwell is also a priority. He states, “People at risk for suicide must be asked if they have firearms and it might be a good idea to have someone hold onto their firearms while they are in treatment.”

Help and hope:

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Veterans can dial 1. People are available to talk 24 hours every day. The website (www.speakingofsuicide.com) offers important resources. If you or someone you know feel suicidal, contact a doctor or a mental health professional, family, clergy or friends and dial 911 if necessary. When it comes to thinking about suicide — there is help and hope.

Dr. Julia Breur is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. Further information is available at www.drjuliabreur.com.

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THE THERAPY ROOM: Self-sabotaging behaviors and weight loss goals

Posted on 21 June 2018 by LeslieM

Self-sabotaging behaviors create problems and interfere with goals such as dieting. Do you repeat the same patterns of behavior over and over again expecting different results? You might be demonstrating self-sabotaging behavior.

Weeding through endless weight loss or dieting information can leave a person feeling lost, desperate and overwhelmed since losing weight means you must invest time and understand what health, nutrition and fitness means specifically for you.

Many people jump from diet to diet to include ones endorsed by medical and mental health experts, celebrities and professional athletes. Such qualified and well-known people would never think about steering us in the wrong direction? Or, would they be promoting a diet because they are rewarded for agreeing to associate their celebrity to a weight loss diet program? The simple truth is that we need to truly comprehend what dieting or fat loss, and the physiology of metabolism, means specifically for us.

According to The Bulletproof Diet by Dave Asprey, 90 percent of people who work out in gyms do not train properly and people who join fitness clubs on average quit after 3-4 months. It is humbling to face the fact that, when it comes to a successful health and fitness lifestyle, one must demonstrate daily motivation and commitment.

Why do we give up so easily on our diet goals? Why do we blissfully indulge in many self-sabotaging behaviors? One must reprogram thinking to make harder choices and that can be very uncomfortable.

Saying ‘I will’ allows one to consciously think, feel, behave and move away from doing something one might regret, such as going through a fast food drive-thru to buy a breakfast sandwich versus making a healthy breakfast at home. One must also say no to a midnight snack or getting up in the middle of the night to eat. ‘I want’ is the ability to remember why when temptations strike and one can therefore focus on long term goals and learn to want more than a fast food breakfast sandwich or a midnight, or middle of the night, snack. Leaning into ‘I will’ and ‘I want’ empowers one to look temptations right in the eye and say, “No way, not now…” and those temptations will lose their power.

Stress is yet another factor causing self-sabotaging diet goals. The more stress we feel, the more likely we are to overeat, over-spend or over-indulge and soon we sadly regret such actions. Mental or physical stress drains us and anything we can do to reduce stress in our lives will help eliminate the potential of self-sabotaging diet goals.

Becoming conscious of any self-sabotaging behaviors that interfere with dieting goals can be the beginning of a new and successful journey in achieving weight loss goals. Remember, change is always possible!

Dr. Julia Breur is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. Further information is available at www.drjuliabreur.com.

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THE THERAPY ROOM: Mental Health and Medical Dementia Advances

Posted on 17 May 2018 by LeslieM

(Part 3 in our series on Dementia)

The good news is that there are many advances being made in both the mental health and medical fields when it comes to dementia. Let’s examine some of these new advances.

Dementia and Mental Health advances:

The Dementia-Directive

Dr. Barak Gaster, an internist at the University of Washington School of Medicine, spent three years working with specialists in geriatrics and devised a dementia specific mental health advance directive (https://dementia-directive.org). This directive provides a map for mild, moderate and severe dementia and asks dementia patients to decide what medical interventions they want and do not want at each phase of their dementia.

It is estimated that between 20 to 30 percent of us at some point will develop dementia. As patients turn 65 and qualify for Medicare, which covers a visit to discuss advance care planning, the dementia- directive can be a useful tool that acts as a supplement to other directives.

The dementia-directive has many positive aspects. We know that many patients move into advanced stages of dementia prior to anyone identifying it and, therefore, being able to discuss with the patient what exactly is happening to them and asking them how they would like their dementia managed is beneficial. It is difficult for dementia patients to express their wants and needs as their dementia progresses and the dementia-directive can be a helpful tool for better management as the disease progresses.

Dementia and Medical advances:

Medical Devices

Neural Devices are electrodes that penetrate top layers of the brain and act as mini-microphones to record brain activity. Some neural devices are currently being tested to diagnose Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s based on what is called a fingerprint or activity patterns recorded directly from the brain. It’s interesting to note that Facebook and Elon Musk’s company Neurolink are currently looking to invest in neural device companies.

Medications

Cholinesterase inhibitors, such Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne and Memantine or Namenda, are used to treat the common cognitive symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as memory loss, confusion and problems with thinking and reasoning. There is also a Namzaric that combines one of the cholinesterase inhibitors Donepezil with Memantine.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, brain cells die and connections among brain cells are lost causing cognitive symptoms to worsen. Current medications cannot stop the damage Alzheimer’s causes to brain cells, but they may help lessen or stabilize symptoms for a limited time by affecting certain chemicals involved in carrying messages among the brain’s nerve cells.

Exercise

According to Neurology Times, a study of over 1,400 women over age 44 years were observed to determine a correlation between midlife cardiovascular fitness and the risk of developing dementia. It appears there was a 9.5 year delay determined by using an ergometer cycling test and this study supports research that exercise is a reliable strategy to prevent dementia.

Dementia Series summary:

We have explored dementia in our three part series over the past three months. Dementia is a complex condition with many possible causes, but what many people want to know is can dementia be cured? Recent developments and understanding of how the disease progresses have been encouraging. Researchers believe more effective treatments will continue to be realized.

Additional information is available to you online at www.Alz.org. This website will help you find your local Alzheimer’s chapter, direct you to a 24/7 helpline (800-272-3900) and provide you with access to a virtual library with over 5,000 library books, journals and other Alzheimer’s resources.

Dr. Julia Breur is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. Further information available at www.drjuliabreur.com.

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THE THERAPY ROOM: Dementia and caregiving

Posted on 19 April 2018 by LeslieM

Part 2 of a 3-part series on dementia

Today, there are more than 9.9 million people caring for someone with Alzheimer’s and other dementia. Last month, the initial column in our series on dementia discussed dementia as a progressive biological brain disorder that makes it difficult for those diagnosed to think and communicate clearly and to even take care of themselves. This month, in part two of our series, we discuss practical strategies for caregivers who manage others with dementia.

Many families find it difficult and frustrating to communicate with a loved one with dementia. It is important to remember that a person with dementia cannot control behavior caused by their dementia.

Here is a list of common dementia behaviors and helpful suggestions for caregivers:

Eating and Nutrition: People with dementia forget their need to eat and drink, and complicating this may be dental problems, weight loss, irritability, disorientation, poor sleep and even bladder issues. Caregivers should consider serving meals away from a television and other distractions. Being flexible with food and beverage choices helps — a person with dementia may suddenly develop new food choices or reject ones that were liked in the past.

Bathing: Forgetting proper hygiene, such as bathing, combing hair, brushing teeth and changing clothes are common among people with dementia. Being cleaned by another person can be frightening, embarrassing and humiliating to a person being cared for and frustrating to a caregiver. If your loved one is modest when it comes to bathing, acknowledge that by making sure doors and shower curtains are closed. Keep a towel over private body parts and have a robe ready after bathing. Never leave a person with dementia unattended in a bath or shower and have all necessary bathing products in place for ease of use.

Sleeplessness: Restlessness and disorientation are troubling behaviors people with dementia experience and often it gets worse at the end of the day and throughout the night. Caregivers can increase daytime activities and discourage daytime naps, limit intake of sugar and caffeine and, if needed, consider speaking with patient’s physician about medication for sleeping issues.

Hallucinations and delusions: Seeing or hearing things others do not and false beliefs may occur as dementia progresses. Caregivers can offer reassurance and acknowledge the thoughts and feelings relating to hallucinations and delusions and use distractions to help such as suggesting a walk or simply moving to another room.

Caregivers at times forget to focus on their own needs.

Here are self care practices to consider:

Learn and use stress reduction techniques, such as exercise or yoga

Get rest and proper nutrition

Seek and accept support from others

Talk to other family members and the dementia patient’s physician about new concerns and seek their guidance for suggestions on additional or alternative care-giving assistance

A caregiver cannot stop the impact of dementia for someone they care for, but there is a great deal they can do to take responsibility for their own well-being and to have their needs met. When a caregiver’s needs are addressed the person being taken care of will benefit as well.

Dr. Julia Breur is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. Further information available at www.drjuliabreur.com.

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The Therapy Room: Defining dementia part 1

Posted on 15 March 2018 by LeslieM

(Part one of a three part series) Dementia means “deprived of mind” and has been described in older adults since ancient times. Dementia is a term used for a wide range of symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. These symptoms include the following:

Decline in memory

Language and communication confusion

Difficulty focusing and paying attention

Poor reasoning and
judgment

Difficulty with visual perception

The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s and is named after Alois Alzheimer, a German physician who first described it. Today, Alzheimer’s accounts for approximately 70 percent of the dementia cases. It causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging. The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 or older and it is interesting to note that up to 5 percent of people with Alzheimer’s are in their 40s and 50s.

The second most common form of dementia is Vascular and this can occur after a person experiences a stroke. There are numerous other conditions that have symptoms of dementia, even some that are reversible, and include thyroid issues and vitamin deficiencies.

There is not one test to determine if someone has dementia. Physicians take into consideration medical history, physical examination, laboratory tests, mental and memory testing, changes in thinking, daily functioning and behaviors in order to determine that an individual has dementia.

10 Early Symptoms of Dementia

1. Memory Changes: Forgetting where an item has been left, struggling to know the name of someone in the same room or forgetting what given tasks are to be attended to in a given day

2. Difficulty with Words: Difficulty explaining a situation

3. Mood Changes: Mood changes, such as depression or a shift in personality, such as normally being shy to being very outgoing

4. Apathy: Losing interest in a normal activities or hobbies. Choosing to be alone rather than being socially interactive

5. Difficulty with Tasks: Difficulty balancing a checkbook or understanding players or score of sports game. Struggle to learn new things or follow new routines

6. Confusion: Confusion may occur since an individual can no longer remember faces, find right words or properly interact with others

7. Difficulty with Conversations: Struggle with comprehension during a conversation

8. Direction Disruption: Spatial orientation and sense of direction deteriorate. Following step by step instructions becomes difficult

9. Repetitive Behavior: Repeats daily tasks, repeats same question even after an answer has been provided

10. Change in routine can be difficult: Fear from memory loss — going for a walk and not knowing where one is within minutes. This may create desire to stick with what is known and not trying new things

Some risk factors for dementia, such as age and genetics, cannot be changed. Researchers continue to explore the impact of other brain risk factors and the prevention of dementia. Some active areas of research are in risk reduction and prevention of dementia to include application of the Mediterranean diet that appears to help protect the brain and physical fitness to increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Cardiovascular factors also help, such as not smoking, keeping blood pressure stable, monitoring cholesterol, monitoring blood sugar and maintaining a healthy weight.

Research over the past 20 years has greatly improved our understanding of what dementia is and how it develops and affects the brain. This work is paying off with better diagnostic techniques, improved treatments and potential ways of preventing these diseases.

For the next part in my three part series on Dementia, I will be focusing on Dementia and caregivers.

Dr. Julia Breur is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. Further information is available at www.drjuliabreur.com.

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THE THERAPY ROOM: Relationships, Boundaries and Codependency

Posted on 15 February 2018 by LeslieM

This month, we celebrate Valentine’s Day as a significant cultural, religious and commercial reflection of romantic love.

As a practicing clinical psychotherapist, I meet with many couples who tell me that their romantic love has dwindled or even disappeared and they want my counseling to help them get back to feeling and expressing the love they experienced when they first met.

To recreate or restore a past romantic period to the present time is difficult, if not impossible, but, as a psychotherapist, I do help couples retrace the disappearance of their romantic love and help them rekindle it. I ask each partner to observe and discuss love as it relates to them individually and jointly. I usually get a confused look from the couple when I ask each to observe the love they have for self. I am not talking about narcissism, the insatiable need for constant attention and admiration, but I am talking about healthy love and care for oneself. Healthy love and care for oneself is part of the formula to be able to love another person.

Start with self love and self care. Take care of your own needs then serve others from that place of care and abundance. This way you will be giving the best of yourself, not the rest of yourself.”

What are some areas in a relationship that cause couples to go off track when it comes to romantic love?

One area is relationship boundaries. A boundary is any line that sets a limit. No one is born with automatic boundaries. They are developed over time and many enter adulthood with broken and damaged boundaries. Research shows that abuse, humiliation, shame and some mental disorders negatively affect the development of a healthy loving relationship. Our boundaries determine how we bond with others and, if we have broken boundaries, we become vulnerable to sabotage by others. It is our responsibility to develop boundaries and adjust them as needed throughout our lifetime.

One therapeutic exercise I use to teach people about boundaries is having them say “no” to something asked of them that they think or feel obligated to say “yes.” By saying “no,” it eliminates the role of victim and helps set a boundary.

Another area to examine is codependency, which is the control, nurturing and maintenance of relationships with individuals who are chemically dependent or engaging in undesirable behaviors. A classic codependency model is the alcoholic husband and the enabling wife. This model exemplifies the saying “when there is ongoing conflict, there is underlying agreement…” in other words, “it takes two to tango.”

Codependent people with weak boundaries are experts at tolerance for mental and physical pain. It becomes difficult for them to notice that someone is hurting them or that they are hurting themself.

Recovery from codependency, as well as learning to set boundaries in a relationship, is achievable and can help restore romantic love — positive change is always possible.

Dr. Julia Breur is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.drjuliabreur.com.

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THE THERAPY ROOM: All about New Year’s resolutions

Posted on 18 January 2018 by LeslieM

A New Year’s resolution has become a tradition or even a ritual by which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life beginning the first day of the New Year.

Over half of us make New Year’s resolutions, but less than 20 percent of us succeed at making them a reality. It may reflect a lack of motivation, lack of resources or just losing interest. Isn’t it time we figure out practical ways to actually accomplish bringing our resolutions to fruition?

The most common New Year’s resolutions I have heard as a psychotherapist include the following:

Weight loss and exercising

Learning something new

Investing money rather than just spending it

Being kinder to oneself and others

Searching for a new job

Volunteering

Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption

Acquiring better sleeping habits

Meeting new friends and be a better friend

More than 80 percent of us who make New Year’s resolutions do not accomplish them. Why?

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions that are simply not attainable. Did you commit to something you truly want to commit to or did you think it is something you must commit to? Slow down and stop focusing on what others have suggested for you to accomplish and be mindful of what you want for yourself and plan a strategy to achieve it.

If you are someone who does better and feels better with a support system, get someone to join you or be there for you as you lose weight, eat better, reduce or stop drinking alcohol, or work out at the gym. This is a way for you to be accountable to achieve your goals, and being accountable is essential for your success.

Surrendering can sabotage a New Year’s resolution. You may get discouraged or lose interest, so try journaling to monitor your progress throughout the year. Keeping yourself on track will provide the motivation needed for your ultimate success.

Time management is important. Rather than trying to accomplish all in one day or one week, break your strategic plan into smaller parts. Dedicate five to 10 minutes a day doing crunches or jogging versus an hour daily. Five to 10 manageable minutes will make what you are doing a habit and that will help you to move forward.

If you resolve to lose weight and consider joining a high-end health club, you may wind up anxious from the thought of the expense and avoid joining any health facility. There are more ways to exercise and lose weight than using an expensive health club. Visit your local YMCA/YWCA or place of worship that has group exercise programs that cost less. Consider setting up a home gym or see what your neighborhood recreational park facility may have to offer. Financial burdens will only help you lose interest fast in any of your New Year’s resolutions.

I want you to believe in yourself and the New Year’s resolutions you are striving for in 2018. Be kind to yourself and others and you will achieve your goals. Meaningful change is possible.

Dr. Julia Breur is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.drjuliabreur.com.

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The Therapy Room: Winter Holiday Survival Tips for Anxiety and Depression

Posted on 21 December 2017 by LeslieM

The Therapy Room: Winter Holiday Survival Tips for Anxiety and Depression

The winter holidays cause many to experience unwanted stress, anxiety and depression. Many factors trigger such reactions and include unrealistic expectations of self and others, financial pressures, making too many commitments to family, co-workers and friends, and, sometimes, even focusing on the inability to be with those you believe you would prefer to be with.

Certain individuals feel anxious or depressed around the winter holidays due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is also referred to as seasonal depression. SAD is a kind of depression that tends to occur as daylight grows shorter in the fall and winter months and, therefore, is a result of inadequate exposure to sunlight.

The symptoms of SAD include tiredness, fatigue, sadness, irritability, poor concentration, muscular pain, insomnia, appetite changes, excessive alcohol consumption, social isolation and loneliness. Lifestyle changes that are proven to decrease SAD symptoms include spending more time outdoors, exercising and maintaining healthy eating habits. Psychotherapy, light therapy, acupuncture and medications are additional options to consider to decrease SAD symptoms.

Organizing and balancing the demands of holiday gifts and food shopping, family obligations, social gathering events and even house guests contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety, being overwhelmed and increased tension.

If someone dismisses depression, they may actually develop stress responses and experience physical and emotional symptoms, such as headaches, over-eating, insomnia or excessive alcohol consumption. Some individuals also experience anxiety and depression after the New Year due to high expectations leading to extreme disappointments.

Many of us think about loved ones who have passed away during the winter holidays. Love does not end in death and it is important that we keep such loved ones alive by the way we live. Include memories of them during your holiday gatherings and celebration by decorating a wreath with items that remind you of them, display happy memory pictures, make their favorite dish for your family and friends to enjoy, or light a candle and reflect on the light they continue to bring to your life.

For those suffering from winter holiday anxiety or depression, benefits may be realized by increasing social support, asking for help and sharing family holiday responsibilities, such as food shopping and preparation, maintaining a budget for gift purchases and making, and taking, time to relax. Psychotherapy and support groups can help you gain insight into your holiday blues, relieve stress and bring a layer of needed social support.

Tips to prevent stress, anxiety and depression during the winter holidays:

Set realistic goals and make realistic expectations

Do not take on more responsibilities than you can manage — delegate!

Do not set yourself up for disappointment and sadness

Volunteer and help others — you will be helping yourself as well!

Limit or do not drink alcohol — excessive alcohol consumption increases feelings of depression

Reach out and make new friends — spend time with supportive people

Winter holidays bring anxiety and depression into many lives and can be managed by implementing the above tips. Also consider seeking individual psychotherapy or group support if these symptoms become overwhelming and too much of a burden. This winter holiday season make time for yourself and consider doing something new — change is possible!

Dr. Julia Breur, Ph. D., LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton, Florida. Further information available at www.drjuliabreur.com.

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The Therapy Room: Exercise: Become Stronger, Smarter and Younger

Posted on 16 November 2017 by LeslieM

Why do Americans spend billions of dollars annually on elixirs and quick fixes to look better? Does any medicine exist today that can make us stronger, smarter and younger? The miracle medicine that truly works and can provide longevity, health and wellness is EXERCISE.

Our country is trying to untangle and reassemble the current healthcare system into one that works. There are many changes that must take place and I believe more emphasis must be placed on the many health benefits of exercise — for all ages!

The consequences of a sedentary lifestyle have been well studied and researched. People who do not or rarely exercise are at risk for various cancers, heart disease, chronic diseases, depression, and other mental and physical health issues. The National Institutes of Health recently launched a study aimed at what exactly happens to a human body that moves. The goal is to prove that exercise is the ultimate medicine.

Not every type of exercise works for every person. An effective way to make exercise more desirable is to incorporate a goal-orientated approach. I do this in my psychotherapy private practice. I promote brief therapy with specific goals spelled out clearly and carried forward for each of my patients. Achieving mental and physical health goals motivates my patients to move forward and achieve their goals.

Here are a few reasons why you should exercise:

Doing any exercise 3-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes will increase your energy and stamina.

Walking daily and monitoring your steps using a fitness tracking device will improve your health. Any number over zero is improvement, but 7,000-10,000 steps a day will help reduce visits to the doctor.

Exercising will ease symptoms of many chronic conditions. Consider meeting with a professional trainer to build strength and endurance and to reduce pain by increasing blood flow and releasing endorphins — those feel good brain chemicals.

Exercising will help you to lose weight. You will become conscious of the nutritional content and portion size of the food you eat. Strength training and cardiovascular exercises will ultimately help you to attain the body and overall health you desire.

Exercising reduces anxiety and depression. Move your body and do something different because sitting and watching television, or using devices for long periods of time can lead to stress. Take a walk, swim in the ocean, consider a spin or yoga class. Just move your body and your thinking will improve!

The strongest evidence that exercise is key to being youthful is that studies consistently show that people who exercise regularly have fewer strokes, fewer heart attacks and live longer than those who stay put. Your body in motion slows down the acceleration of aging at the cellular level. Why not consider exercising to feel and look better and stronger? Make your move today — change is possible!

Dr. Julia Breur is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.drjuliabreur.com.

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